LEXINGTON, Va. - The VMI Keydets placed six players in double figures, led by 20 points apiece from D.J. Covington and Brian Brown, enabling them to cruise past the Central Penn College Knights, 116-81, in men's basketball action Tuesday night at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va. The game was VMI's home opener and marked the seventh straight year the Keydets had won their first game at Cameron Hall.
Covington's 20 points, 17 of which came in the second half, matched his career high set in February 2011. The junior forward also posted a career-high equaling 13 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Brown hit five three-pointers to help him amass his 20 points, and is now averaging four made triples per contest early in the season.
With the triumph, the Keydets (1-2) have now won 29 consecutive non-conference games at Cameron Hall, with the last setback in that streak being on Dec. 1, 2007, a 71-69 loss to Army. Tuesday's game also marked the first time since last year's game against Central Penn (4-1) that the Keydets had posted six players in double figures.
Several other Keydets also had notable performances, including Nick Gore's double-double that included a career-high tying 13 rebounds. It was Gore's first double-double since 2010 against this same Central Penn squad. Rodney Glasgow just missed being the third Keydet with a double-double, as he posted 17 points and nine assists with just one turnover. Finally, freshman Gavin Stephenson finished with seven steals, the most by a Keydet since Ron Burks also had seven on Nov. 30, 2009.
After back and forth action in the early going, Gore hit a three-pointer at the 14:31 mark to give the Keydets a 12-11 lead. Central Penn scored the next time down the floor to retake the lead, 13-12, but VMI went on to score the next 16 points, completing a 19-2 run and taking a commanding 28-13 lead on a Stephenson breakaway lay-in.
Connor Arnold converted a three-point play with 9:48 left in the half to cut the margin to 11, 28-17, but Covington split a pair of free throws 13 seconds later to make it a 12-point game, and CPC could not get any closer the rest of the way. The Keydets went up by as many as 25 in the first half, doing so on a Joe Carr bucket at the 1:03 mark, but the Knights closed the period well, scoring the last nine points to go into the locker room down 16, 52-36.
The first half saw Stan Okoye and Glasgow each post 12 points, while the Keydets shot 20 of 42 (47.6%) from the field. Central Penn took advantage of 18 bench points, including eight from Keith Wilson, to stay within striking distance.
The Knights scored the half's first bucket, cutting it to a 52-38 contest, but Brown hit a triple to push the margin back to 17 and the Keydets gradually pulled away from there. The margin hit 30 with 12:37 to go, doing so on a Covington basket, and was increased to a game-high 37 with 7:32 remaining, as Dorian Albritton scored five straight points, the first of his collegiate career, to make it a 95-58 game.
The game was played relatively evenly over the final 7:32, as the contest slowed down and Central Penn hit four three-pointers over that time period, including two by Arnold. The visitors could not get the margin under 30, however, and Christian Burton hit a triple with 39 seconds remaining to cap the scoring, 116-81.
With Brown and Covington each hitting the 20-point mark, the contest is the first for VMI with two 20-point scorers since Jan. 19 of last season, when Okoye and Keith Gabriel accomplished the feat against High Point. VMI finished the game having shot 45 for 85 (52.9%) from the field, including 13 of 33 from three-point range.
Central Penn was led by Devon Dorsey, who had 21 points and six rebounds as his team was 33 of 78 (42.3%) from the floor.
VMI basketball will return to action Thursday, as the Keydets face the Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg. Game time is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN3.